Six Things To Carry With You
Whenever I travel I spend the final hours before leaving in a frenzy of charging-up. It seems that travelling light now involves hauling 10 kgs of tech around, and it all has to be filled with ‘the new electricity’, as my great-grandmother called it. Thank god I gave up my car, otherwise I’d be charging that too. By the time I get where I’m going I should be fizzing with errant electricity.
1. A ‘smart’ mask
As opposed to ‘an NHS mask’ which is still the safest, lightest and most practical. Of course I have to own one with silver dragons on it in case anyone invites me to lunch. You can barely breathe through it. A short flight of steps leaves me in danger of passing out.
2. A notebook. I buy one everywhere I go. They’re inexpensive and always different. My Indian notebook is made from recycled elephant dung (actually very elegant). Each one gets used for a particular idea. They are ritually destroyed once I’ve written up the story because I don’t want anyone seeing how rubbish some of my ideas are and finding out that I’ve used the second half of the book for shopping lists and recipes.
3. A pen. Biros and 2HB pencils for notes and a special pen – a Mont Blanc, given to me by The Husband, with brown ink, never blue – that only gets used for signatures. I feel gutted if I go to an event without my special pen and have to borrow one. It’s as much a good luck charm as a tool.
4. Headphones. I’m an aural obsessive because I suffer from tinnitus. Ear pods are great but seem to increase sound damage if I wear them for more than a few minutes. Flat-ear over-the-head earphones are best for travel, and the best I’ve found are Bowers & Wilkins. Great sound quality, comfortable fit. It’s a minor compulsion; I can handle it, although I’m not sure my wallet can.
5. A book. Non-readers and teenagers need to be taught that books calm nerves and totally obliterate panic attacks. Books are a benign drug that can turn you into a lifetime addict. This Andrew Martin novel is a terrific period whodunnit. I’m waiting for a train to turn up (he usually operates in the niche of historical-railway-crime.) For waiting rooms and train journeys I take a Kindle, but they have a short shelf life. The older Kindle models charge badly and behave as erratically as your grandpa used to when he ran out into the street to warn us about the pod-people. I’ve just ordered the newest model as it’s a bona-fide business expense in my job. I expect it to stay in one piece for a few weeks.
6. A spare T-shirt. I’ve lived my life in T-shirts and wear them to death. We don’t need valets to press our trousers anymore. I always admired Charlton Heston in ‘The Omega Man’ because he tore off his shirt and wiped it under his arms before chucking it in the bin. You don’t get women doing that (I don’t think).
Also; Keys. The Husband refuses to take keys anywhere with him so I have to. This compulsion must be connected to the reason why he never shuts doors.
Beyond the items on this list, what’s the item you carry everywhere with you now?